The ongoing debate: Youtube Shorts vs Instagram Reels


Varsha Harnoor

Shirley Fukuda (‘25) scrolls through her Instagram reels during lunchtime.

In a time of rapidly emerging technology, social media has created platforms for entertainment. Two popular forms of social media, Instagram reels, and Youtube shorts emerged after the 2020 pandemic, averaging over 30 billion views daily. However, the ongoing debate about which platform is more popular still continues. 

“[In my opinion I would recommend others to watch Instagram reels] because they are a good way to spend your time,” said Anika Aeka (‘24).

Although Youtube has been around longer than Instagram, Youtube shorts only recently appeared in 2021, following Instagram reels, created in 2020. Instagram reels have become popular amongst teenagers due to their accessibility, as they appear immediately after opening the app. 

“I watch Instagram reels more because they are easier to get on my phone. They are [also] easy to scroll through, you don’t have to sit there and watch a ten-minute-long youtube video” said Aeka. 

Instagram reels are short videos containing a variety of content, ranging from news pieces to popular culture. Youtube shorts, on the other hand, consist of shortened clips of larger youtube videos, which often present recent content.

“I prefer Instagram reels over Youtube shorts because the reels have content that I find fun to watch and [are] entertaining. [The reels] feel more complete than the shorts” said Selina Nakari (‘23). 

Alongside data regarding which platform teenagers prefer, there has been data collected regarding the screen time of teenagers on these platforms. In recent months, generally, the number of viewers of both reels and shorts increased. However, there have been instances where teenagers’ screen time on either of these platforms has slightly declined.

“[I watch] Instagram reels because I feel I’m just on Instagram more [but] [I watch them] around 20 minutes a day, not much,” said Sagana Chattanathan (‘25). 

Instagram reels and Youtube shorts both serve important purposes: they provide a source of entertainment at any given time as well as conquer boredom when it arises. 

“[I watch them] after school when I’m bored and don’t have [much] to do,” said Aeka.